Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 05 February 2018 (J&K Shows The Way To The Nation: To Assess The Viability Of Big Hydro Pojects)

In a remarkable development, Jammu & Kashmir Govt is reviewing its Hydro policy to assess whether the Hydro Electric Power Projects (HEPs) are still viable. As per sources, this is for the first time that the Govt is discussing the viability of generating hydro power.

An empowered committee led by the Chief Secretary has started this discussion by calling for an “approach paper” that will give an overall picture of the hydropower industry in India. Top sources in the State Power Development Corporation (SPDC), a government-owned company, told Kashmir Reader that the empowered committee wants to lay a roadmap for power generation in the state. “It will reflect the vision of the government. It will give the picture of hydropower generation in India, its rates, market, demand and supply. It will also lay down a roadmap for large power projects,”

The approach paper will be part of a new hydropower policy which will be submitted before the same committee, and then before the cabinet for approval. The SPDC had submitted a hydro policy draft in April last year, which was returned to it in December. Sources said the approach paper has to be submitted in two months’ time.

At present, India has a surplus generation of hydropower, which has plummeted its rate. This has led to losses for SPDC as it invested in projects whose generation costs were high. The blunt example is that of the 450-MW Baglihar II. SPDC has failed to lure any buyer for more than a year as its selling cost of per unit of energy, Rs 4.4, is nearly Rs 2 higher than the market rate. The SPDC has finally managed to sell the power at about Rs 4 per unit to the Uttar Pradesh government but for one year only. The SPDC may have to struggle again next year if the state of UP does not continue the contract.

Another example is that of Nimuno Bezgo, and Chutak hydropower projects, which sell energy at Rs 13 per unit. The SPDC also buys power from Dulhasti project at Rs 7, when the available rates for power in the market is around Rs 2 and Rs 4. https://kashmirreader.com/2018/02/02/cs-led-panel-to-lay-roadmap-for-power-generation-in-jk/ (Kashmir Reader. 2 Feb. 2018)

As per another report, facing a growing demand for electricity and unable to tap its vast potential for generating hydroelectric power, the state government is looking to boost solar power generation. Given the long gestation period of hydel projects, it is unlikely the generation of hydroelectric power will expand significantly in the near future, said. Hence,  the focus on solar power. Indeed, when solar power potential exists, with lower installation and operation costs and impacts, why States continue after destructive, expensive hydro projects? https://scroll.in/article/866058/kashmir-can-generate-a-lot-more-hydel-electricity-than-it-requires-why-is-it-eyeing-solar-power (Scroll.In, 30 Jan. 2018)

There is one more interesting hydro power development in which the state cabinet of Bihar has approved closing 3 and cancelling the development of 2 others in addition to handing over of 8 hydropower projects to neighboring Jharkhand.

Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 05 February 2018 (J&K Shows The Way To The Nation: To Assess The Viability Of Big Hydro Pojects)”

Dams · Environment Impact Assessment · Expert Appraisal Committee · Himalayas · Irrigation · Landslide · Ministry of Environment and Forests · Nepal · Public Hearing

Who exactly needs the Pancheshwar Dam?

Bolo Jai Jai Baba Bhole”, the Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi, while speaking at Kedarnath in Uttarakhand in Oct 2017[i], asked the people in audience to chant with him. Indian deity Mahadev, the presiding deity at Kedarnath on the banks of Mandakini river is possibly the closest to rivers and nature among all the deities, as is also clear from his attire. Baba Bhole is one of the many names of this deity. Incidentally, the massive, controversial Pancheshwar Dam a pet project of Mr Modi will also submerge the Pancheshwar Mahadev Temple, where too, the presiding deity is same Bhole Baba. But we will come back to Bhole Baba. Continue reading “Who exactly needs the Pancheshwar Dam?”

Dams

New Grounds Why Pancheshwar Dam Is Unviable Project

Date 3.12.2017

To,

The Chairman and members,     

The Expert Appraisal Committee,                                                                    

River Valley Projects,

Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Govt of India,

Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110 003

Sub: Urgent submission regarding the Environmental Clearance for the proposed 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project in Uttarakhand and Nepal.

Dear Chairman & Members of the Expert Appraisal Committee,

This is to bring to your notice, and to place on record, some serious concerns related to the Environmental Clearance of the proposed 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. The concerns are both, on Points of Order, as well as observations on and serious flaws in the Environmental Impact Assessment report submitted by WAPCOS.

Continue reading “New Grounds Why Pancheshwar Dam Is Unviable Project”

Dams

Pancheshwar Dam’s Public Hearing: Neither People nor Environment were heard

The recently concluded Pancheshwar dam Environment Public Hearing (EPH) is classic example of how undemocratically EPH are conducted against the letter and spirit of EIA notification of Sept 2006. Umpteen violations were committed wilfully during three EPH on Pancheshwar Dam on 09, 11 and 17 August 2017 in Champawat, Pithoragarh and Almora district of Uttarakhand.

WHY EPHs IN MONSOON? In July 2017, the proposed Pancheshwar Dam Project planned on Kali river along the India-Nepal border invited sharp criticisms from local groups. Given the ongoing monsoon rain across the disaster prone hills, the people asked the concerned District Magistrates and Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) for the rescheduling[I] the EPH. But overlooking genuine public concerns and incidents of cloud bursts and landslides causing flash floods and road blocks in the project affected districts the authorities went ahead with the EPH plans.  

Continue reading “Pancheshwar Dam’s Public Hearing: Neither People nor Environment were heard”

Chenab · Cumulative Impact Assessment · Environment Impact Assessment · Expert Appraisal Committee · Himachal Pradesh · Hydropeaking · Hydropower · Ministry of Environment and Forests

Sach Khas Hydro project in Chenab Basin: Another example of WAPCOS’s shoddy EIA

Even after multiple appeals by various experts, organizations and local people, Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) set up by Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) has once again chosen to ignore alarms of changing climate such as disaster of Uttarakhand in 2013 and has continued to consider Hydro Power Projects on Chenab Basin for Environmental Clearance (EC) before the Cumulative Impact Assessment of Chenab Basin has been accepted by MoEF. While on one hand the State Government of Himachal Pradesh has promptly appointed a committee headed by Chief Secretary to supervise and monitor all the progress and to “sort out” problems of getting various clearances “without delay in single window system”[i], on the other hand overall transparency of the Environmental Clearance Process has been steadily decreasing.

Sach Khas HEP (260 + 7 MW) (located in Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh) was considered by EAC in its 76th meeting held on August 11, 2014. Even though the project was considered for EC, no documents were uploaded on the website. Website does not even list the project under “Awaiting EC” category. This is in clear violation with MoEF norms, basic norms of transparency and Central Information Commission (CIC) orders. There are no fixed guidelines for documents to the uploaded, the time by when they should be uploaded and rules that project cannot be considered if the documents are not uploaded.

SANDRP recently sent a detailed submission to EAC pointing out several irregularities of the project. The comments were based on reading of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report available on the HP Pollution Control Board Website (which cannot be substitute for putting up the documents on EAC website). Environmental Management Plan (EMP) of the project is not accessible at all! Non availability of EMP on the HP Pollution Control Board website too is a violation of EIA notification 2006.

The EIA report which is prepared by WAPCOS is another example of a poorly conducted EIA with generic impact prediction and no detailed assessment or quantification of the impacts. Moreover since EMP is not available in the public domain, there is no way to assess how effectively the impacts have been translated into mitigation measures. Violations of Terms of Reference (TOR) issued by EAC at the time of scoping clearance is a serious concern.

Project Profile

Sach Khas HEP is a Dam-toe powerhouse scheme. The project has a Concrete Dam & Spillway with Gross storage of 25.24 MCM, Live Storage of 8.69 MCM and Reservoir Stretch at FRL of 8.2 km (approx.) Three intakes each leading to 5.8m diameter penstocks are planned to be located on three of the right bank non-overflow blocks. Three penstocks offtaking from the intakes are proposed to direct the flows to an underground powerhouse on the right bank of the Chenab river housing 3 units of 86.67 MW turbines with a total installed capacity of 260 MW. The project also proposes to construct 2 units of 7 MW each to be installed to utilize the mandatory environmental releases. The EIA mentions (p 2.19) that the HP government has allocated 3.5 MW Hydropower project on Chhou Nala in the project area to the project authority, so this is integral part of the project.

Sach Khas Dam Site

Sach Khas Hydro Electric Project was considered before completion of Cumulative Impact Assessment of Chenab Basin

Chenab basin may have one of the highest concentrations of hydropower projects among all basins in India[i]. The basin has over 60 HEPs under various stages of planning, construction and commissioning in states of Himachal Pradesh (HP) and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). 49 of these projects are planned or under construction in Chenab in HP and of which 28 projects of combined generation capacity of 5,800 MW are at an advanced stage of obtaining (Environment Ministry) clearances[ii]. MoEF sanctioned TORs for Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) of the HEPs on Chenab in HP in February 2012 however the project specific ECs were delinked from the CIAs[iii].

MoEFs Office Memorandum dated May 28 2013 states, “While, first project in a basin could come up without insisting on cumulative impact study, for all subsequent hydro-power projects in the basin, it should be incumbent on the developer of second/ other project(s) to incorporate all possible and potential impacts of the other project (s) in the basin to get a cumulative impact assessment done.”

We had pointed out in our submission against Kiru & Kwar projects in Jammu & Kashmir that CIA of all the proposed, under construction and operational projects and carrying capacity assessment (CCA) of the Chenab River basin to see if it can support the massive number of HEPs in safe and sustainable way is one of the first steps before considering clearances to HEPs in this region. Looking at the fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem, considering any hydropower project in the basin without these studies will be an invitation to disaster[iv]. This fact has been repeatedly highlighted by multiple organizations and experts including SANDRP.

Sach Khas EIA Study: Gross violation of TOR

The EIA violates several stipulations of TOR issued on Feb 22, 2013, which also included the stipulations of EAC in Sept 2012 and Nov 2012 meetings where the project TOR was considered and also Annexure attached with the TOR. This has severely affected the overall quality of the EIA report.

About assessing the impacts of the project on wild life the TOR said: “Reaching conclusion about the absence of such (Rare, Endangered & Threatened) species in the study area, based on such (conventional sampling) methodology is misleading” as such “species are usually secretive in behavior”, “species specific methodologies should be adopted to ascertain their presence in the study area”, “If the need be, modern methods like camera trapping can be resorted to”. None of this is shown to be done in any credible way in EIA.

TOR also recommends intense study of available fish species in the river particularly during summer (lean) months with help of experimental fishing with the help of different types of cast and grill nets. There is no evidence in EIA of any such intensive efforts detailed here. In fact the field survey in summer moths was done in May June 2010, years before the EAC stipulation.

TOR (EAC minutes of Sept 2012) state “Chenab river in this stretch has good fish species diversity & their sustenance has to be studied by a reputed institute.” This is entirely missing. TOR (EAC minutes of Sept 2012) states “During the day, the adequacy of this discharge (12 cumecs) from aquatic biodiversity consideration needs to be substantiated”. This again is missing. TOR said 10 MW secondary station may be a more desirable option. This is not even assessed. TOR said Impacts of abrupt peaking need to be assessed. This is also not done. Site specific E-Flow studies and peaking studies stipulated by TOR are missing. TOR states that Public Hearing / consultations should be addressed & incorporated in the EIA-EMP. However there is no evidence of this in the report.

TOR also required following to be included in EIA, but many of them found to be missing: L section of ALL upstream, downstream projects; Project layout showing all components with A-3 scale of clarity and 1: 50000 scale; drainage pattern map of river upto project; critically degraded areas delineated; Demarcation of snowfed/ rainfed areas; different riverine habitats like rapids, pools, side pools, variations, etc;

Contradictions in basic project parameters

The EIA report provides contradictions in even in basic parameters of the project components: So section 2.1 on page 2.1 says, “The envisaged tail water level upstream of the Saichu Nala confluence is 2150 m.” This i s when the TWL is supposed to 2149 m as per diagram on next page from the EIA. Section 2.3 says: “River bed elevation at the proposed dam axis is 2145m.” At the same time, the tail water level is 2149 m. How can Tail water level of hydropower project be higher than the river bed level at the dam site? This means that the project is occupying the river elevation beyond what HPPCL has allocated to it. Page 23 of EIA says: “…the centerline of the machines in the powerhouse is proposed at 2138.00m…” So the Centre line o the power house is full 11 m BELOW the tail water level of 2149 m? How will the water from power house CLIMB 11 m to reach TWL level?

EIA report unacceptable on many fronts

Dam ht of 70 m was stated in TOR, however the report states it to be 74 from river bed. The submergence area, consequently has gone up from 70 ha at TOR stage to 82.16 ha, as mentioned in Table 2.2 of EIA. Total land requirement which was 102.48 ha as per TOR ha has now increased to 125.62 ha, with forest land requirement going up to 118.22 ha. This is a significant departure from TOR that should be requiring fresh scoping clearance. Part of the field study has been done for the project more than four years ago and rest too more than three years ago. There are not details as to exactly what was done in field study. EAC had noted in their meeting in Sept 2012, while considering fresh scoping clearance for the project, “EIA and EMP should be carried out afresh keeping in view the drastic changes in the features due to increase in installed capacity of the power house.” (Emphasis added.) The EIA report is thus unacceptable on multiple fronts.

No cognizance of Cumulative Impacts

CIA of the entire Chenab basin including HP and J&K is not being considered, which itself is violating MoEFs Office Memorandum dated May 28 2013. The OM states that all states were to initiate carrying capacity studies within three months from the date of the OM No. J-11013/I/2013-IA-I. Since this has not happened in case of Chanab basin in J&K, considering any more projects in the basin for Environmental clearance will be in violation of the MoEF OM.

On Cumulative Impact Assessment, the OM said, “While, first project in a basin could come up without insisting on cumulative impact study, for all subsequent hydro-power projects in the basin, it should be incumbent on the developer of second/ other project(s) to incorporate all possible and potential impacts of the other project (s) in the basin to get a cumulative impact assessment done.” The EIA of both the projects does not include the cumulative impacts.

The project is located between Purthi HEP upstream and Duggar HEP downstream. Elevation difference between TWL of Purthi (2220m) and FRL of Sach Khas (2219m) is barely 1 m. The horizontal distance between them is as less as 117m. This is clearly unacceptable and in violation of the minimalist EAC-MoEF norms.

Elevation difference between TWL of Sach Khas (2149m) and the FRL of Duggar (2105 m) is 44 m and the horizontal distance is 6 km. This is thus a cascade of three among many other projects in the basin.

Cascade of three projects

Purthi HEP Site

Dugar HEP Site

Even so the report does not even mention the other two projects. EIA study is project specific and no cumulative impacts are assessed along with the other two projects. The EIA does not provide a list of all the HEP projects taken up in the Chenab basin in HP state[i]. The MoEF sanctioned TORs for conducting Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) of Chenab In February 2012. EAC considering any further project in Chenab basin before completion of the CIA study of the basin by a credible agency (not WAPCOS) and finalised in a participatory way will be in violation of the MoEF order of May 2013.

EIA report completely misses out on the detailed analysis of cumulative impacts in terms of disaster potential of the area and how the project will increase that; impacts on flora, fauna, carrying capacity, livelihoods; cumulative downstream impact, cumulative impact of hydro peaking. impacts on springs and drainage pattern; impacts of forest diversion on environment, hydrology and society and implementation of the Forest Rights Act; changing silt flow pattern in different phases, impacts of mining, tunneling, blasting etc. Impact of reduction in adaptive capacity of the people and area to disasters in normal circumstance AND with climate change has not been assessed. Project makes no assessment of impact of climate change on the project even when over 60% of the catchment area of the project is snow-fed and glacier fed. Options assessment in terms of non dam options as required under EIA manual and National Water Policy are missing.

Generic impact prediction

Impact prediction is too generic with no detailed assessment, which is what EIA is supposed to do. Impacts have not been quantified at all. The EIA report merely states the likely impacts in 2 or 3 sentences. Several important impacts have gone missing. None of the serious impacts have been quantified. For an informed decision making and effective mitigation and EMP quantification of impacts is essentially a pre requisite. Following are some such incidences:

Impacts of blasting & tunneling: TOR for the impacts on “Socio-economic aspects” says, “Impacts of Blasting activity during project construction which generally destabilize the land mass and leads to landslides, damage to properties and drying up of natural springs and cause noise pollution will be studied.”(p.196 of EIA Report). The total area required for Underground Works is 2.44 Ha. The project proposes underground power house with an installed capacity of (260+7). There are three TRTs proposed of length 99.75m, 113.13m, and 132.35m. Even so the impacts of blasting for such huge construction are simply disregarded in the EIA report by stating that “The overall impact due to blasting operations will be restricted well below the surface and no major impacts are envisaged at the ground level.” (p.165). While assessing the impacts of blasting on wild life the report states that direct sighting of the animals has not been found in the study area and the possible reason could be habitation of few villages. No attempt has been made to assess impacts of blasting like damage to properties, drying up of springs etc. This is a clear violation of TOR.

Impacts of Peaking & diurnal flow fluctuation: In the lean season during peaking power generation the reservoir will be filled up to FRL. As stated in report, this will result in drying of river stretch downstream of dam site of Sach Khas hydroelectric project for a stretch of 6.0 km, i.e. upto tail end of reservoir of Dugar hydroelectric project. The drying of river stretch to fill the reservoir upto FRL for peaking power will last even upto 23.5 hours, after which there will continuous flow equivalent to rated discharge of 428.1 cumec for 0.5 to 2 hours. Such significant diurnal fluctuation with no free flowing river stretch will have serious impacts on river eco system. There is no assessment of these impacts. Instead the report projects this as a positive impact stating “In such a scenario, significant re-aeration from natural atmosphere takes place, which maintains Dissolved Oxygen in the water body.” This is absurd, not substantiated and unscientific.

International experts have clearly concluded that: “If it is peaking it is not ROR”[ii]. In this case the EIA says the project will be peaking and yet ROR project, which is clear contradiction in terms.

Impacts on wild life: EIA report lists 18 faunal species found in the study area. Out of them 8 species are Schedule I species and 8 Schedule II species. Even so while assessing the impacts of increased accessibility, Chapter 9.6.2 b(I) of the report mentions “Since significant wildlife population is not found in the region, adverse impacts of such interferences are likely to be marginal.” If the project has so many schedule I and II species, the impact of the project on them must be assessed in the EIA. Moreover, massive construction activities, the impacts of long reservoir with fluctuating levels on daily basis, high diurnal fluctuation and dry river stretch of 6km on wild life could be serious. But the report fails to attempt any assessment of the same.

Impacts on geophysical environment are missing: The project involves Underground Works of 2.44 Ha. This involves construction of underground powerhouse, three headrace tunnels and several other structures. This will have serious impacts on the geophysical environment of the region and may activate old and new landslides in the vicinity of the project. The report makes no detailed assessment of this. Generic comments like “Removal of trees on slopes and re-working of the slopes in the immediate vicinity of roads can encourage landslides, erosion gullies, etc.” (p.176) have been made throughout the report. Such generic statements can be found in every WAPCOS report. Such statements render the whole EIA exercise as a farce. Project specific, site specific impact assessment has to be done by the EIA. Considering that the project is situated between Purthi HEP upstream and Duggar HEP downstream, a detailed assessment of the geophysical environment and impact of all the project activities is necessary. Further since the EMP is not at all available in public domain, it is difficult to assess what measures are suggested and how effective measures to arrest possible landslides have been suggested.

Downstream view of Sach Khas

Right Bank Drift at Sach Khas

No assessment for Environmental Flow Releases

TOR states that the minimum environmental flow shall be 20% of the flow of four consecutive lean months of 90% dependable year, 30% of the average monsoon flow. The flow for remaining months shall be in between 20-30%, depending on the site specific requirements (p.192). Further the TOR specifically states that a site specific study shall be carried out by an expert organization (p.193).

The TOR also mandated, “A site specific study shall be carried out by an expert organisation.” However completely violating the TOR, the EIA report makes no attempt for the site specific study to establish environmental flows. Instead it proposes to construct 2 units of 7 MW each to be installed to utilize the mandatory environmental releases. This completely defeats the basic purpose of the environmental flow releases. Such flows will help neither the riverine biodiversity, nor fish migration nor provide upstream downstream connectivity.

Socio-economic profile of the study area and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Plan are missing

TOR specifies a detailed assessment of socio-economic profile within 10 km of the study area including demographic profile, economic structure, developmental profile, agricultural practices, ethnographic structure etc. It also specifies documentation sensitive habitats (in terms of historical, cultural, religious and economic importance) of dependence of the local people on minor forest produce and their cattle grazing rights in the forest land. As per the TOR the EIA report is required to list details of all the project affected families.

Report however excludes assessment of socio economic impact of the study area. The total land required for the project is 125.62 ha, of which about 118.22 ha is forest land and the balance land 7.4 ha is private land. There are cursory mentions of habitations in the study area. Chapter 8.7 ‘Economically Important plant species’ states that in study area the local people are dependent on the forest produce such as fruits, timber, fuel wood, dyes and fodder for their livelihood. However the EIA report does not even estimate the population displaced due to land acquisition and impact of the various components of the project on livelihood of the people. Further detailed study is then out of question. This is again gross violation of TOR.

Indus Water Treaty

Chenab basin is international basin as per the Indus Water Treaty. A recent order of the international court has debarred India from operating any projects below MDDL and has disallowed provision for facility to achieve drawdown below MDDL in any future project[i] (for details, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/international-court-asks-india-to-release-more-water-and-rejects-plea-to-re-interpret-february-verdict-on-kishanganga/). The EIA described gate opening in this project for silt removal, which stands debarred by international court. The EIA thus is in violation of the verdict of international Court.

The EIA says (p. 21 bottom), “Five low level sluices with crest at 2167m of size 7.5m width and 12.3m height are proposed for flood passage. Drawdown flushing of the reservoir shall be carried out through these sluices for flushing out of the sediment entrapped in the reservoir. Detailed studies on sedimentation and reservoir flushing can be taken up at detailed planning stage.” The MDDL of the project is 2209.3 m as mentioned in the same para. This means the project envisages sediment flushing by drawdown to 2167 m (sluice crest level, the sluice bottom level wll be 12.3 m below that), about 42.3 m below the MDDL. This is clearly not allowed under PCA order cited above on Indus Treaty.

Impact of 3.5 MW Chhou Nala HEP to be constructed for the project not assessed

The EIA mentions (p 2.19) that the HP government has allocated 3.5 MW Hydropower project on Chhou Nala in the project area to the project authority, so this is integral part of the project. But the EIA does not contain any impacts of the SHP. The stream on which this is planned is extremely important for the people as drinking water schemes, irrigation Kuhls and gharats of Rai, Chhou and Thandal villages are located on this stream in the proposed project area. Thus the project will have huge impacts, but there is no assessment of these impacts. This is another glaring omission of EIA. It was shocking to read that the resident commissioner said at the public hearing that this question is not part of Environmental Public hearing, when it is very much part of it.

Public hearing report

At several places either no information is given or misleading information has been presented. For example the project representatives mis-informed the people at PH that 15-20% water will be released, when minimum water they need to release is above 20%. DFO said that soil will be spread over the muck disposal site for tree planting over it, but there is no provision of this in EIA-EMP. Many questions were provided with vague answers or no answers at all. No clear answer was given when asked if the muck dumping sites have been decided in consultation with the local people, implied answer is clearly that local people have NOT be consulted. When asked about agreements to ensure that the company implements EMP and Social Management Plan as required, there was no promise that such an agreement will be signed with the village gram sabhas. The affected people raised the issue of erosion impact of diversion tunnel, but no specific response was provided in response to this issue. When a resident of Chhou village raised the issue of vulnerability of the village to the landslides, no clear answer was given by the project developer. When the same person asked that our cremation ground is going under submergence, what is the company planning about it, the project developer replied that IF the cremation ground goes under submergence, we will think about this. This only shows that the project developer and EIA consultant have not even done an assessment of such basic aspects. The PH report accepts that close to 100 workers are already working without even basic sanitation facilities, this is clear violation of EIA notification further the EIA Agency fails to mention this.

EIA is full of cut and paste, generic statements, no actual assessments

Out of nine chapters of EIA, only the last chapter is about impacts assessments! So out of 170 pages of nine chapters, only 31 pages of chapter 9 is supposedly about impact assessment and there too mostly there is no real impact assessment, mostly only generic statements that can be included in any EIA. There are several unnecessary sections in the EIA like chapter 3 on “Construction Methodology” which is unnecessary in EIA. In most other sections too, the information is just cut and paste from DPR. By way of impact prediction, the EIA report is only listing them doing absolutely NO ASSESSMENT and no quantification of impacts is attempted. Further since the EMP is not available in the public domain, it is impossible to assess if the measures provided in the EMP are effective. Such EIA is definitely not acceptable.

No proper referencing The EIA does not provide references to the specific information, without this it is difficult to cross check which information is from which secondary sources and how credible it is and which information is from primary survey.

Conclusion

This is another most shoddy piece of EIA by WAPCOS.

Moreover, as we can see the EIA has not done several impact assessments, has violated large no of TORs on several counts, the EIA-EMP are not available on EAC website, the project parameters have undergone changes necessitating fresh scoping clearance as mentioned in TOR but that has not happened, baseline study is 3-4 years old, EAC stipulation of fresh EIA-EMP has been violated, Project is using larger riverine stretch than given by HP govt, there is no proper referencing, hydrology is weak, EMP is not available on HPPCB website in violation of EIA notification, among several other issues listed above. Every conceivable serious problem can be found in this EIA of WAPCOS.

It is full of generic statements that can be pasted in any EIA without any attempt at project specific impact assessment. SANDRP has been pointing to EAC and MoEF about such unacceptable EIA by WAPCOS for several years, but neither EAC, nor MoEF has taken any action in this regard. SANDRP has once again urged to EAC and MoEF to reject this EIA and recommend blacklisting of WAPCOS and to issue fresh scoping clearance for the project as mentioned in the TOR since the project parameters (dam height, submergence area, land requirement, etc) have gone through significant changes.

We sincerely hope the EAC will not only take serious cognition of these and not recommend clearance to the project, but also direct the project proponent and EIA consultant to implement other recommendations made above.

 Amruta Pradhan (amrutapradhan@gmail.com), Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

[i] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/international-court-asks-india-to-release-more-water-and-rejects-plea-to-re-interpret-february-verdict-on-kishanganga/

[ii] See for example https://sandrp.in/basin_maps/Hydro_%20Electric_Projects_in_Chenab_River_Basin.pdf

[iii] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/if-its-peaking-its-not-an-ror-interview-with-dr-thomas-hardy-iahr-and-texas-state-university/

[iv] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/

[v] https://sandrp.in/hydropower/Dams_on_Chenab_How_many_are_too_many_Dec2012.pdf

[vii] https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/

[viii] Refer to SANDRP studies on Chenab

– https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/pm-kick-starts-850-mw-ratle-project-in-jk-without-full-impact-assessment-invitation-to-another-disaster-in-chenab-basin/

– https://sandrp.in/hydropower/Dams_on_Chenab_How_many_are_too_many_Dec2012.pdf

– https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/massive-hydropower-capacity-being-developed-by-india-himalayas-cannot-take-this-onslought/

[ix] http://northgazette.com/news/2013/04/25/special-committee-to-monitor-hydro-projects-in-hp-cm/

Expert Appraisal Committee · Karnataka

Tragedy of Errors : Environmental governance and the Sonthi Lift Irrigation Scheme

That small-time EIA agents and private project proponents put up sham EIAs and project justifications is not really news. People, from erstwhile Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to Prof. Madhav Gadgil, have spoken famous lines about this issue.

But what if respected government agencies and departments too join this band wagon of fraud?

In the 69th meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF[i], officials of Karnataka Bhagya Jal Nigam Limited and WAPCOS (Water and Power Consultancy, under the Ministry of Water Resources) earnestly discussed the ‘proposed’ Sonthi Lift Irrigation Scheme, which ‘envisages’ a non-submersible barrage ( dam) across the Bhima River in Gulbarga, Karnataka. The barrage and project would submerge over 1400 hectares of land and affect nearly 3000 people.

As per EIA Notification 2006, the project had applied for first stage environmental clearance (Terms of reference clearance) in which the EAC is supposed to appraise the viability of the proposal holistically, assess the pre-feasibility report (PFR) and Form I submitted by the project proponent and, if all these are found satisfactory, recommend specific Terms of Reference for carrying out Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Public Hearing of the project. On completing these, the project comes back to the EAC for Environmental clearance. Based on the EIA and public hearing, EAC decides on recommends Environmental clearance (EC). EC is issued by the MoEF and only after this can the actual project work start.

This forms the backbone of the Environmental clearance process of the country, upheld by the EIA Notification 2006 and Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

Now comes the intriguing and sad part.

The Pre-feasibility report of the project, presumably done by WAPCOS, talked about Sonthi Lift Irrigation scheme, which ‘envisages construction of Sonthi barrage, its ‘proposed’ submergence and people who ‘may be affected’. Form I by the proponent talked about “967 structures which will have to be cleared in submergence village for the project”. Note here that WAPCOS is no small time EIA Agency, it is a part of the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India.[ii]

The reality is that the Sonthi barrage with vertical gates, which the Executive Engineers and WAPCOS were ‘proposing’, already stands across the Bhima River near Sonthi village. While work on the barrage is complete, work on canals is also complete in some stretches and progressing in some. Contracts for this Lift Irrigation scheme, which was discussed for TORs in 2013, were issued by the Karnataka Government as early as 2005!

Completed Sonthi Barrage Photo: KBJNL http://www.kbjnl.com/Comp-CZ1-Sonthi-BCBAR-Bhima
Completed Sonthi Barrage Photo: KBJNL http://www.kbjnl.com/Comp-CZ1-Sonthi-BCBAR-Bhima

And the status of the Sonthi LIS is not a secret either.

In fact, the Karnataka Bhagya Jal Nigam Limited website itself sports a picture of this barrage and states that: “Sonthi Barrage, with a capacity of 4 TMC is already completed!” (http://www.kbjnl.com/Ongo-CZ1-Sonthi-LIS)

The website states:

Location:

Across River Bhima near Sonthi Village of Shahapur Taluk.
Utilisation 4.00 TMC
Components Bridge cum Barrage across River Bhima.
Head Work – 1 No.
Main Canal – 23 Km, Branch Canal – 16 Km
Yargol Minor Canal – 10 Km & Distry. Network.
Command Area 16,000 Ha.
Status of work

Sonthi Bridge cum Barrage completed.
Head work in progress

The barrage completed with all 37 gates of the barrage fixed, work on the canals of the Lift Irrigation scheme is also progressing water is stored and work on feeder canal is completed, branch canals on going fast and completed in some stretches. According to KBJNL, Civil work of barrage & Erection of all 37 vertical gates completed and water stored at Barrage. Construction of Feeder Canal work is completed. Works of Sonthi LIS Main Canal Km 0.00 to 5.00 including Aqueduct, Sonthi Branch canal Km 0.00 to 7.00, Distry. No.1 Km 0.00 to 15 & Yargol Minor Canal works are in progress.” (http://www.kbjnl.com/Progress-Report)

CAG’s report

Ironically, not only is the scheme complete, but CAG had punched holes in the contracting of this LIS back in 2011.( http://agkar.cag.gov.in/docs/ARPSU%202013-Eng.pdf ) According to CAG Report, No. 4, Commercial of 2011, Karnataka, modifications of converting a submersible bridge into a lift irrigation scheme have happened on the barrage and Sonthi barrage has already been modified into a Lift Irrigation Scheme. CAG has recorded irregularities in awarding contracts for this extended work also to the same contractor, without proper tendering process. CAG proves that contracts for converting the submersible barrage into a non-submersible barrage and Lift Irrigation Scheme were given as early as 2005, nearly a decade before the project came for first stage environmental clearance!

According to teh CAG report: After award of the work (June 2003) the Company (Karnataka Bhagya Jal nigam Limited) decided (December 2003) to construct a non-submersible bridge on a request from the Minister for Minor Irrigation (October 2003). This resulted in increase in quantity by more than 125 per cent of tendered quantities. The same contractor was entrusted (Nov 2004) with the additional works necessitated due to change over to non-submersible bridge at the cost of Rs  7.85 crore.”

“On the directions of the Government (Dec 2005) Sonthi bridge- cum-barrage was modified to include lift irrigation scheme also. Construction of steel embedment works for vertical gates and the associated additional civil works at the cost of Rs 30.15 crore were also entrusted to the same contractor.”

Media reports also support this change into a Lift Irrigation scheme way back in 2005 ““The Government has increased the scope of the Sannati barrage ( which is the same as Sonthi barrage, as the place is called Sonthi as well as Sannati) and converted it into a lift irrigation scheme to utilise 4 tmcft of water to irrigate more than 17,000 hectares. Mr. Singh laid the foundation stone for the redesigned Sannati lift irrigation project on June 16 2005”

Karnataka Bhagya Jal Nigram Limited or WAPCOS however, did not share this advanced status of the work with the MoEF and went on talking of the ‘proposed’ barrage in the EAC meeting.

69th EAC Meeting: SANDRP sent a submission to the EAC ahead of the 69th meeting in which the project was considered, exposing this state of affairs. Following this, the 69th minutes of the EAC note: “It was informed to the project proponent  that a complaint/representation against the project from SANDRP has been received. As per the complaint, construction work for the project has already been started.  In that case, this is a violation of Environmental Protection Act, 1986. The project proponent was given a copy of the complaint and was asked to give a detailed response. The EAC also advised MoEF to write to State Government on the violation and take necessary action/ settle in accordance with provisions of prevalent office memorandum on such violation.  The proposal may be placed before EAC only after this issue is resolved.”(Emphasis added)

Public Hearing of an existing Project?!

Despite these clear instructions by the EAC we are shocked to see that Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has announced on its website that Environmental Public hearing of the Sonthi Lift Irrigation Scheme will be held in Sonthi village on the 23rd March 2014! (http://kspcb.kar.nic.in/pubhear.html)

The announcement is also accompanied by Executive Summary of EIA report and a complete EIA report. This EIA will not stand legal scrutiny as this is done without TORs from the MoEF. The Kannada version of the EIA report also bears the name of WAPCOS.

Shockingly, both the Executive Summary and the EIA paint a fraudulent picture that the project has received TOR clearance in the 69th EAC meeting, when we saw above that this is categorically incorrect.

The EIA report states: “The Terms of Reference (TOR) for the EIA study were approved by MoEF. A copy of the approved Terms of Reference for the CEIA study is enclosed as Annexure-I.”

The EIA Executive Summary states: “Annexure III: TOR Clearance, 69th Meeting Minutes.”Annexure III consists of the 69th Minutes and has shockingly removed the parts of the minutes which unequivocally state that TORs have been rejected.

(It has removed: “The proposal may be placed before EAC only after this issue is resolved”)

These consciously misleading statements are completely unexpected and unacceptable from the Karnataka Bhagya Jal Nigam Limited as well as WAPCOS.

COPY PASTE EIA!

The travesty does not end here. The EIA report by WAPCOS is a confusing document. Though it is meant for Sonthi LIS, Karnataka,large parts of the report mention Kundalia major multipurpose project from Madhya Pradesh!

For a lift Irrigation Scheme, without any drinking water supply angle, the reader is told: “The proposed Kundalia Major Multipurpose project will provide 20 Mm3 Improvement in agriculture production of water every year to meet drinking water requirements. This will serve a population of 1.35 million, who will be served with low fluoride levels. Thus, Rajgarh district, which is categorized as fluoride affected, will be immensely benefitted due to the project.” (Page 10.6)

This repeats with unerring regularity at various places like 10-4, 10-6, 10-8, Table 2.2 (Cost required for Kundalia Project), 9.1 (Prediction of impacts!), many places at 9.7, etc.

The EIA further extolls the benefits of Kundalia Multipurpose Project in an EIA document of Sonthi Lift Irrigation Scheme!

In fact the EIA of Kundalia was also done by WAPCOS.

SANDRP and a number of organisations have pointed out the severe issues with WAPCOS’s EIAs, basin studies, cumulative impact assessments tudies, etc. Even Forest Advisory Committee of the MoEF has passed strictures on WAPCOS. But it seems that WAPCOS is insulated against these errors, which severely affect communities and ecosystems.

Complete reading of the EIA report highlights:

  • Wrong figures of affected population: EIA Report (10-2) states that 2861 people will lose their lands and 1760 people would lose homesteads. Same page states that 2004 people would lose lands. Topping this, section 13.3 states that in total only 942 people would be affected! (From 852 families, so this is assuming 1.1 persons per family!!). Its interesting to see that the agency could not get the numbers right even for a project which is already existing.
  • Wrong impoundment figures: Chapter 5 of Hydrology states: The Sonthi Lift Irrigation Scheme envisages construction of a barrage across Bhima River near Sonthi village in Chittapur taluka, Gulbarga district, in Karnataka to impound 4 TMC of water including a dead storage of 0.265 TMC. Chapter 2 Project Description states: Sonthi Lift Irrigation Scheme envisages construction of a Barrage across Bhima River to impound 2.89 TMC of water including a dead storage of 0.265 TMC!
  • Cost: Page2-13 gives cost at 502 crores. Page 2-14 gives it at 600 crores.
  • Gross irrigated area and Culturable command are the same at 16800 hectares. Irrigation intensity should thus be 100%, its shown as 105%!
  • Rehabilitation: Although the barrage is built and is storing water, rehabilitation of the affected population still not done.

This is only indicative list of the cut and paste instances, inconsistencies and contradictions in the EIA.

 All in all, it is clear that Public hearing for Sonthi Project should not be held on the grounds of:

1. Absence of TOR from MoEF due to violations

2. Violation of Laws

3. Cut Paste EIA Report

4. Serious issues with the quality of the EIA Report

We urge KSPCB to cancel this public hearing immediately and take action against KBJNL and WAPCOS for making wrong statements of TOR clearance given by EAC when, EAC has not given any such clearance. Not doing so will implicate KSPCB in these illegal activities.

The case of Sonthi LIS is critical as it negates nearly all aspects of the environmental governance surrounding dams in this country. It has violated EIA Notification 2006, EPA 1986, it has conducted a sham EIA study without TORs, the EIA is a copy paste document and we do not even know the status of the displaced population. The question here is not about 16000 hectares of irrigation. If the project had undergone honest and transparent environmental appraisal, it would not have affected the irrigated area. The question is how serious are we in implementing, upholding and respecting laws protecting people and environmental and our entire environmental governance system.

SANDRP has sent submissions to the EAC, MoEF as well as the KSPCB to cancel this sham of a public hearing for an existing project. Our eyes are now at the KSPCB and MoEF to see what action do they take against a project which undermines rules laid down by the MoEF and the laws of the land.

-Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com

 

Madhya Pradesh · Narmada

Chinki Major Irrigation Project on Narmada: Yet another evidence of MP’s obsession with Large Irrigation Dams & WAPCOS’s shoddy reports

In recent years Madhya Pradesh has been on a Major Irrigation project spree. Some such projects at various stages of Environmental and forest clearance from MP recently include the Kundaliya Major Irrigation Project which will submerge nearly 8000 hectares of land and displace more than 8000 people, Kalisindh Major Irrigation project which will submerge nearly 5000 hectares of land and displace more than 2000 people, Mohanpura Major Irrigation project which will submerge more than  7000 hectares of land and displace more than 10,000 people and  Bansujara Multipurpose project on Dhasan river (Betwa/Yamuna basin) which will submerge more than 5200 hectares (though the EMP of the project also done by WAPCOS (Water and Power Consultancy Services) then says that submergence will be 7476 hectares!) and displace at least 25,000 people .[i],[ii]

Projects in Narmada Basin Photo: NVDA
Projects in Narmada Basin Photo: NVDA

It is significant to note that Madhya Pradesh has one of the worst records of dealing with rehabilitation and resettlement of affected population. The state is struggling with several serious issues including mining (including illegal mining), sand mining, deforestation, alienation of tribals from their lands and rights, etc.

Affected tribal population of the Kharak Dam in Khargone District who were brutalised by police force for peacefully protesting against the dam Photo: The Hindu
Affected tribal population of the Kharak Dam in Khargone District who were brutalised by police force for peacefully protesting against the dam Photo: The Hindu

It is also significant that it was at the behest of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan that the clause of Social impact Assessment for Irrigation Projects and land for land compensation for affected population was deliberately removed from the new Land Acquisition Act 2013 (The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013).[iii] How the Union government agreed to this blackmail is another question.

Chinki Project Latest addition to the long list of irrigation projects in MP is the Chinki Major irrigation Project in Narsinghpur District, proposed by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). The project envisages irrigation for 89,029 ha of gross command area in Narsinghpur and Raisen Districts and 15 MW of hydro power generation. This project will affect more than 8000 hectares of land and affect a whopping 49 villages in Narsinghpur and Jabalpur according to its preliminary estimate. The project was awarded Terms of Reference Clearance by the EAC of the MoEF in its 58th meeting in June 2012. Recommending TORs (Terms of Reference, which is the first stage clearance) implies that the pre-feasibility study has been done thoroughly and the same is appraised in detail by the MoEF’s (Ministry of Environment and Forests) EAC (Expert Appraisal Committee) for River Valley Projects.

Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh
Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh
Chinki Irrigation Project Plan
Chinki Irrigation Project Plan

Shattering all these assumptions, we see that Chinki Multipurpose project has applied for TORs again and is on agenda for the 72nd EAC meeting being held on Feb 20-21, 2014 for strange reasons.  A perusal of the new PFR (Pre Feasibility Report) exposes that the initial PFR and assumptions were flawed beyond imagination! The initial PFR was done by WAPCOS, which is under the Ministry of Water Resources of India. WAPCOS has been routinely churning out studies of substandard quality and seems to have a strong bias AGAINST environment and people. At the same time, this incidence raises a question mark over the so called “detailed scrutiny” that is done by the EAC of the MoEF while appraising a project. SANDRP studied the new proposal in detail and sent comments to the EAC, MoEF. Excerpts from the submission are given here.

Vast difference between two PFRs! The EAC had issued TORs to Chinki Project in its 58th meeting in June 2012 9PFR by WAPCOS). It is shocking to see the drastic changes between the two PFRs, considering that the dam site and command is staying exactly the same. Comparison of original project features with revised features reveals that the changes in project features include-

  • Catchment area decreased by more than half the original from 8,802 sq.  km to 4,377 Sq. km
  • Dam height decreased from 35.5 m to 30 m.
  • Submergence increased more than twice from 3,250 Ha to 6,995 Ha
  • Land to be acquired nearly doubled from 4,150 Ha to 7,895 Ha
  • FRL decreased from 348 m to 340 m.

So with lesser catchment area, same dam location, lower dam height, the submergence area has more than doubled!!

These facts highlights how shoddy and unreliable the initial PFR done by WAPCOS and put forward to the EAC was, which was cleared by the EAC. This is a clear case of providing factually wrong reports to the EAC and MOEF and EAC and MoEF should take a clear stand on this instance and suggest necessary punitive steps against the Project Proponent and WAPCOS. This is yet another instance of shoddy work of WAPCOS.

It is high time that the EAC and MoEF blacklist WAPCOS for its conflict of interest and poor quality work. The EAC should not award a new TOR for this scheme, but should ask the MP government to change its EIA consultant, enquire into the reasons and persons responsible for this fraud and undertake necessary steps, including points raised below.

Cumulative Impact Assessment of Projects on Narmada should be mandatory before considering any more projects: The 58th Meeting itself noted the severe over-development of NarmadaBasin in Madhya Pradesh and beyond. The Chinki Multipurpose Project on the Narmada is sixth project after the Upper Narmada, Raghavpur, Rosara, Basania and Bargi Projects, amongst the schemes proposed in the upstream of this site on river Narmada. There are 7 existing projects in the Narmada Basin namely, Karjan (Karjan River), Sukta (Sukta River), Tawa (Tawa River), Barna (Barna River), Bargi (Narmada River) and Matiyari Major (Matiyari River). There are 7 on- going projects namely; Sardar Sarover on Narmada River, Jobat (Hathni River), Man (Man River), Upper Beda (Beda River), Maheshwar, Omkareshwar and Narmada Sagar on Narmada River. Besides these projects, there are 17 projects proposed in the basin!

Jal Satyagraha at Omkareshwar Dam Photo: The Hindu
Jal Satyagraha at Omkareshwar Dam Photo: The Hindu

Most of these projects are fraught with serious issues related to massive displacement, forest submergence, poor rehabilitation and resettlement, tribal issues and forest rights, reservoir fishing leases, legal and procedural issues, questionable benefits, lack of assessments or appraisals, etc. Considering these issues and also MoEF’s Office Memorandum of May 28, 2013, a cumulative impact assessment of all projects in Narmada, including the carrying capacity study should be carried out. This was recommended by the EAC also in its 58th meeting. However, this study should not be conducted by MP Govt or NVDA or WAPCOS, as this is a clear conflict of interest. The study should be carried out involving a multidisciplinary team of experts & local participation after TORs of the study are discussed in public domain. Only after such a study has been approved through a participatory process should other projects be considered. Looking at the severe impact of ongoing projects on Narmada and its people, this is needed to uphold the principle of sustainable development.

Madhya Pradesh’s extremely poor track record of rehabilitation & resettlement For almost three decades now agitations have been going on against MP Govt’s poor R&R. In one of the latest episodes, in Aug 2012, several affected people from Omakareshwar and Indira Sagar Dam undertook a Jal Satyagrah for 17 days together against absence of rehabilitation by MP Govt. The Supreme Court issued a show cause notice to MP Govt and again in 2013, the SC passed strictures against MP Govt when the latter tried to demand an undertaking from farmers affected by the Omkareshwar dam to the effect that they will not demand compensatory land under the rehabilitation policy[iv]. The MP Government has indulged in a number of unfair and unjust practices about rehabilitation and resettlement.  It is to be noted here that at least 5 villages submerged by the Omkareshwar dam were not even envisaged to be submerged, indicating the blunders in planning, as well as insensitivity to the displaced population. Affected population of Omkareshwar had to risk their lives while protesting against the unjust ways of MP Government. MP govt’s injustice to SSP affected people is well known, the govt just refused to provide land to the displaced people. MP govt has also shown least concern of the impacts of such projects on the downstream states[v].

bargi

Again last year, oustees from Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Maan and Upper Beda all protested together[vi] in Bhopal. The EAC should be aware of the past performance of MP govt in this regard, it should not give TOR clearance for Chinki project which will submerge nearly 8000 ha of land.

Narmada

WAPCOS’s poor track record: Time and again WAPCOS reports have proved to be of poor quality, aimed only at pushing projects and not concerned at all with any objective or rigorous analysis of the impacts. We have pointed this out to the EAC several times, latest related to Kundaliya, Bansujara[vii] and Mohanpura[viii] Irrigation Projects in MP, and Kangtangshiri HEP in Arunachal Pradesh, but the EAC and MoEF do not seem to be bothered by these serious problems. NGT has indicated that problematic EIA agents need to be blacklisted, but MoEF is not ready to blacklist WAPCOS. Even the Forest Advisory Committee, a statutory body, has passed strictures against WAPCOS.

Plagiarisation: In Chinki Project too, section on wildlife and forests is in fact a description of Kanha National Park, which is far away from the project site. The section says: “At times one is surprised that wild life has survived so well despite the decades of senseless slaughter indulged in by the so called big-game hunters.” This seems unrelated to the project site and is plagiarized from a MP tourist website![ix]

No mention of cumulative impacts: The PFR makes no mention of evident cumulative impacts. The entire section on environmental impacts is superficial.

Discrepancies: The EAC had specifically noted the impact of 2 kms tunnel on forest land. At page 6 and 24, PFR mentions length of tunnel to be 66 meters. At page VII-4, the length of the same tunnel becomes 2.025 kms and at VII- 49, it becomes 2.5 kms!

Form I: In the section 9 on Cumulative impacts, the Form I says there are no cumulative impacts! This is absolutely incorrect when the hydrology, sociology and ecology of the Narmada basin is being changed by several existing, planned and u/construction dams in the basin.

Rainfall in command is nearly 1200 mm! Options Assessment needed: The PFR states:The purpose is to develop irrigation to about 74273 ha culturable command area spread over the Narsinghpur and Raisen Districts to improve the irrigation system by supplementing limited and erratic rainfall.” (Emphasis added.) Now the average rainfall of Raisen and Narsinghpur Districts is 1200 and 1192 mm each! This is by no means limited. The taluks to be services by the project: Kareli, Tendukheda, Barely and Udaipura have good groundwater irrigation. Barely is the biggest Gud Mandi in India and also has a good network of canal irrigation. In such a situation, rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge & watershed management should be the first options rather than large dams.

In fact, looking at the dependence on groundwater and the groundwater potential of the region, the Central Groundwater Board recommends creation of several percolation tanks.[xi]

Considering all these issues, we have requested the EAC not to award TORs to Chinki Irrigation Project unless Cumulative Impact Assessment is completed, thorough options assessment is done and a holistic view of human and ecological development in NarmadaBasin in Madhya Pradesh is adopted. We also expect the EAC to recommend action against the Project Proponent and WAPCOS for submitted factually wrong reports to EAC and MoEF.

Amruta Pradhan, Parineeta Dandekar

END NOTES:


[ii] Other recent projects include Pancham Nagar Multipurpose project in Ken River Basin requiring 2260 ha of land, Pawai irrigation project on Ken River in Panna district, Runjh irrigation project in Panna district, Datuni irrigation project in Dewas district, Sip Kolar River link project, Upper Ghogra irrigation project in Sehore district in Narmada basin and Tori Tank project in Badwani district.

Arunachal Pradesh

Kalai II Public Hearing Held by Suppressing the Public

Lohit Basin Peoples’ forum for Project Affected Families

Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh

Press Note                                                                                                                                        January 20, 2014

Kalai II Public hearing was full of violations, must be cancelled 

Affected people intimidated, beaten up and not allowed to speak by police & politicians

The statutory Public hearing conducted on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at Hawaii in Anjaw district in Arunachal Pradesh about the proposed 1200 MW Kalai II hydropower project in Lohit River Basin was marked by some serious violations that included intimidation of the affected people who wanted to raise questions and speak up, several people getting beaten up by the police and others, people that were not allowed to speak up, taking over of the public hearing by the MLA with his  six hour long speech and public hearing stretched beyond midnight, apparently to manipulate the minutes of the public hearing. All these are serious violations of all the accepted norms of public hearing and cannot be acceptable. This is in addition to many procedural violations that were communicated  through our written letter to Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board, Deputy Commissioner of the Anjaw district and members of the Expert Appraisal Committee  on River Valley Projects in Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the letter remains unanswered.

A public hearing without public: Chairs remain vacant at the  Kalai II public hearing venue
A public hearing without public: Chairs remain vacant at the Kalai II public hearing venue

 

The hearing began at 10 AM with officials of WAPCOS (the EIA consultant agency) briefing the public about the EIA report. When Mr. Bihenso Pul, one of the project affected person stood up to question the officials on their false claim that a consultation was held with the affected land owners in the third stage of EIA, all of a sudden, the local MLA Mr. Kalikho Pul along with his close relatives and workers started threatening him and warning him of dire consequences. Witnessing this, the whole project affected public who had come to take part in the public hearing stood up in support and defense of Mr. Bihenso Pul. Following this, the personnel of Arunachal Pradesh Police started indiscriminately assaulting and lathi charging the public. Mr. Soti Tawsik, a Gram Panchayat Member from Nukung village from INC ticket was also grievously injured due to the lathi charge by police personnel when he tried to raise questions and express his opinion on the project. He was referred to Dibrugarh for further treatment as he was in a critical condition. Others injured include Baah Tawsik and Checheso Tawsik.

A Public hearing held by Suppressing the Public:  The Injury Mark from the Lathi charge is Clear on his Forehead
A Public hearing held by Suppressing the Public:
The Injury Mark from the Lathi charge is Clear on his Forehead

During the presentation on EIA by WAPCOS (it is an agency under Union Ministry of Water Resources, which itself functions like a Big Dam lobby and hence there is conflict  of interest in WAPCOS doing any impact assessment  work since impact assessment is supposed to be done by an unbiased, independent agency. Moreover WAPCOS is also involved in feasibility studies and detailed project reports for justification of projects, its track record is also very poor with both Expert Appraisal Committee and Forest Adivosry Committee of MoEF having crticised their work), even the illiterate villagers started expressing resentment over WAPCOS’s complete lack of knowledge on the topology, flora and fauna of the project affected region which was evident from the multiple factual mistakes made by the during the presentation. They were showing pictures of common fishes found in Parshuram Kund region and telling the villagers that the fishes were photographed from must higher elevation Kalai II project affected region. They did not even recognize the species of common Mynah available in the region and were calling it with different names.

The Public hearing was completely dominated by Shri. Kalikho Pul, the local MLA who spoke for 6 hours at a stretch starting from 6 pm, trying to convince the project affected families with misleading facts, while his workers and the Police personnel were highhandedly suppressing and manhandling every single person who stood to express his opinion or raise a question. Mr. Kalikho Pul also levelled baseless allegation of corruption against Mr. Bihenso Pul who is not even a government servant. Eventually, after being frustrated by the arbitrary, coercive and one sided conduct of the Public hearing, the project affected people started leaving the venue shouting slogans against the MLA and the administration stating they would never succumb to such illegitimate pressure tactics. If the public had not shown restrain and maturity during the mindless repressive act by police the incident could have taken an extremely dangerous turn.

An overwhelming about 60% of the affected people are against the project now being taken up. Even those 30% of affected who may be giving conditional support, have put forward a list of 23 conditions that are yet to be responded to. The rest 10% of the affected are as yet undecided. It is thus clear that the project as it stands do not have public support and with people not allowed to participate in the public hearing, the opposition will only get stronger. It may also be added that the same WAPCOS had done a shoddy EIA of the under construction Lower Subansiri project that remains stall for over 25 months now due to public opposition. The fate of  Kalai II, if pushed without proper credible assessment of the  project  and basin level impacts and credible public hearing, will  not be any different.

Finally, all the members of public left the meeting venue. The request to postpone the Public hearing in view of the incident to the next day by Mr. Bihenso Pul too was turned down and the hearing continued past 12 in midnight with only the Deputy Commissioner of Anjaw District, officials of Reliance Power Limited, Officials of WAPCOS & APSPCB and Mr. Kalikho Pul, Local MLA Anjaw district present during the meeting. This was clearly done to ensure finalization of manipulated minutes of public hearing.

This public hearing must be cancelled, an independent, credible enquiry conducted in the way in was sought to be conducted and in any case a fresh public hearing should be ordered after taking care of all the legal violations.

Bihensu Pul                                                                                                                                Birenso Pul

Chairman, 09402230335/ 08974543363,                                                                          Affected farmer

pulbihenso2012@gmail.com

Arunachal Pradesh

EIA-EMP of Kalai II Hydropower Project Doesn’t Comply with its Terms of Reference

Kalai II HEP – Status of compliance with TOR in EIA and EMP:

Serious non compliance of EIA-EMP: EIA-EMP must go back to consultants WAPCOS

Public hearing based on such EIA-EMP will not be legally valid

The EIA EMP reports of the proposed 1200 MW Kalai II HEP in Lohit basin in Anjaw district in Arunachal Pradesh has been put up on the Arunachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board in advance of the public hearing slated for January 18, 2014. The EIA-EMP report is supposed to comply with the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the EIA-EMP given by the EAC and MoEF, this is statutory requirement as per the EIA notification of Sept 2006. We have just checked this compliance and find that the EIA and EMP reports have not fulfilled a very large number of the TOR (Terms of Reference) that the project was to cover in EIA-EMP as per the TOR clearance given for the project on 9.12.2009. Such EIA-EMP will clearly not be acceptable even from statutory and legal point of view and cannot be basis for a public hearing. Hence Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) and MoEF should immediately cancel the public hearing and ask the EIA-EMP consultants to comply first with the TOR.

A letter has been sent to APSPCB pointing out the violation of norms in organizing the public hearing and asking them to cancel the public hearing. This letter is available at “Letter to APSPCB – Public Hearing for Kalai-II HEP to be held Violating the Norms”. A detailed critique of the EIA-EMP report of Kalai II project is also available at “Critique of Kalai II HEP’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Study and Environment Management Plan

Invalid extension since EIA-EMP does not comply with the TOR Here it may be added that as per minutes of 70th EAC meeting dated Dec 10-11, 2013, “In the mean while, MOEF issued an Office Memorandum dated 22-Mar-10 which stipulates that the proposals which were granted TORs prior to the issue of this OM, the EIA / EMP reports should be submitted after public consultation no later than four years from the date of the grant of the TORs with primary data not older than three years. Thus the TOR issued to the project on 9th December 2009 is valid up to 8th December 2013”. By this norm, the Kalai II TOR clearance should have lapsed on Dec 8, 2013. However, EAC decided to give an extension to TOR for this project, since the project developer claimed, as noted in EAC minutes, “With the completion of all the studies, the draft EIA/EMP report for 1200MW Kalai-II HEP was prepared and submitted by the developer to Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) vide letter dated 31st July 2013…”. However, this assumes that the EIA-EMP submitted complies with the TOR given by MoEF. But this analysis shows that there is serious non compliance of the EIA-EMP with the TOR and hence submission of such fundamentally inadequate EIA-EMP cannot be a valid reason for providing TOR extension beyong legally stipulated period.

Location of Kalai II HEP. Source: EIA report
Location of Kalai II HEP. Source: EIA report

A list of TOR noncompliancein the EIA-EMP is given below.

Noncompliance in EIA Report:

Geological and Geophysical Aspects

  1. Regional Geology and structure of the catchment – some details only about has been mentioned in the EIA, the latter is not available
  2. Seismicity , tectonics and history of past earthquakes in the area – the EIA only mentioned about seismicity, the latter two has been completely ignored
  3. Critical review of the geological features around the project area – not available
  4. Impact of project on geological environment – not available
  5. Justification for location & execution of the project in relation to structural components (Dam height) – not available

Hydrology

  1. Graph of 10 – daily discharge before and after the project at the dam site immediately below the dam should be provided i n the EIA study – Not available
  2. The TOR mentioned “An elementary stream gauging station should be established at a suitable location downstream to the Dam site of the project” and “Installation of two Rainfall Gauge Stations at upstream of dam site” but none of these has been complied with.

Surprisingly the EIA also mentioned “No gauge and discharge (G&D) data is available at the Kalai-II project site or in the neighborhood.”

Biological resources

1)   “Cropping and horticulture pattern and practices in the study area” – no mention of this in the EIA

2)   Regarding identification of rare and endangered flora and fauna the EIA report mentioned only one “During the study in various seasons in Kalai-II HE project area, following IUCN Red List of threatened plant, Lagerstroemia minuticarpa falls under endangered category. Rest of the species are common in Arunachal Pradesh. However, this species though observed in the study area but not found in the land to be acquired for the project.” (section 8.7 page 8 -22) This is a strange claim that the species is observed in the study area but not found in the land for the project.

3) Fish and Fisheries

a)   The 5 location of study of Fish migrations & Breeding grounds was not done

b)   Impact of Barrage building on fish migration and habitat degradation was not studied

c)   Overall ecological impact upto 10 Km d/ s from the confluence of the TRT with the river or reach of the river in India have not been not studied. The impact of untreated and waste water into the river was not studied and no alternatives explored.

4)                  In the part of impact prediction, impacts on flora and fauna due to changed water quality has not been assessed

Socio Economic aspects In terms of Socio-economic aspects the following should have been included in the EIA report.

· Land details*

· Demographic profile

· Ethnographic Profile

· Economic structure

· Development profile

· Agricultural practices

· Cultural and aesthetics sites

· Infrastructure facilities: education, health and hygiene, communication network, etc.

· Impact on socio- cultural and ethnographic aspects due to Construction of Barrage

But the EIA does not do several of these profiles and limits itself to – Demographic profile, Educational levels, Occupational Profile, Land holding pattern, Assets owned and Livestock and other socio-economic parameters etc.

In page 11- 8 EIA report says “Impacts on cultural, archeological and religious properties Monuments of cultural/ religious/ historical/ archaeological importance are not reported in the project area. Thus, no impacts on such structures is envisaged.” However, the EIA should have looked into the impact of project on places of cultural, religious importance for the  local communities.

Impacts related to Land The EIA ignores what has been suggested in terms of impact prediction for land. The EIA completely ignores –

a) Changes in land use and drainage pattern

b) Changes in land quality including effects of waste disposal

c) River bank and their stability

d) Impact due to submergence

However, in page no 10-23 in the section “Impact of Impoundment on Landuse” the EIA mentions: “The construction of the dam would form the reservoir which will submerge about 640 ha of area in upstream. The area witnessed jhum/shift cultivation practiced by local inhabitants. Submergence of the area would not impact much on the prevailing land use pattern.” This is a false and misleading statement since in the hilly areas of Arunachal Pradesh, shifting cultivation is the main process of cultivation and submergence of such a large area is sure to have impacts on land environment.

TOR Noncompliance in Environment Management Plan:

Under Catchment Area Treatment Plan, the TOR letter had asked the project proponent to prepare 5 thematic maps v i z . Slope map, Drainage map, soil map, Land use/ Land cover Map, Aspect map. Basing on these maps an Erosion Intensity map should have been prepared. But the EMP only has two maps Slope map and Land use Map. No Erosion Intensity map was prepared.

Under Compensatory Afforestation Plan it was mentioned that “The choice of species for Afforestation should be suggested and the proper sites for the same should be demarcated on the maps.” There is no map in the EMP report’s chapter on Compensatory Afforestation Plan.

Under Greenbelt Plan the scoping clearance asked for “….suitable plant species should be recommended with physical and financial details. A layout map showing the proposed sites for developing the green belt should be prepared.” But the EMP report chapter on greenbelt does not at all comply with it. It makes no mention of any species and no map had been prepared.

The TOR clearance letter under “Reservoir Rim Treatment Plan” asked for “Layout map showing the landslide/ landslip zones should be prepared.” But the maps provided in chapter 17 of the EMP report are not at all clear and the when zoomed in they get blurred. So the sites, even if they exist in the maps cannot at all the located.

The TOR clearance letter under “Muck Disposal Plan” had asked for “The quantity of muck to be generated and the quantity of muck proposed to be utilized should be calculated.” This was not complied with and EMP report in chapter 6 mentioned only about the muck generated from excavation. Under the same, the scoping clearance also asked for “Layout map showing the dumping sites viz – viz other project components should be prepared.” There is no layout map showing the dumping sites.

The TOR clearance letter under “Restoration Plan For Stone Quarries” asked for “Layout map showing quarry sites vis-à-vis other project components should be prepared.” There is no map prepared for complying with this condition.

For “Landscaping and Restoration Plan” TOR letter asked for proper map showing landscaping and restoration site but this was not complied with in the EIA report.

The TOR letter asked the consultant to include a “Certificate” in EIA/EMP report regarding portion of EIA/EMP prepared by them and data provided by other organization (s)/Laboratories including status of approval of such laboratories. The consultant WAPCOS did not comply with this.

Conclusion These are crucial issues which were specifically mentioned in the TOR letter and EIA-EMP not complying with such crucial issues is unacceptable. The public hearing of the project is schedule to be held on 18.01.2014 but going for public hearing without complying with the condition mentioned in the TOR clearance is against the due process of law. The public hearing of Kalai II project should not be held and the EIA should be sent back to the projects developer. Moreover, as pointed out at the outset, the TOR extension given to the project beyond the stipulated period was based on false claim of submission of EIA-EMP that adheres to the TOR. Thus the extension given is invalid and the project must be asked to apply for TOR clearance afresh as per the MoEF norms. The public hearing if conducted on January 18, 2014 in spite of this, will not stand legal scrutiny.

Parag Jyoti Saikia  (meandering1800@gmail.com)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP)

 

Arunachal Pradesh

Critique of Kalai II HEP’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Study and Environment Management Plan

The 1200 MW Kalai II HEP located on LohitRiver in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh is being developed by Kalai Power Private Limited (KPPL), which is the Special Purpose Vehicle of Reliance Power Limited. The company had signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh on 2-Mar-09. The EIA consultant for the project is WAPCOS. The project was recommended for scoping clearance in 31st Meeting of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) held on 21-22 October 2009. The project was considered in the 70th EAC meeting on 10-11 Dec 2013 for extension of TOR validity. The advertisement published in Arunachal Times suggests the date as 18th January 2014.

The EIA study cannot clearly state whether Kalai II is a storage project or a run of the river project. The EIA study is also not clear about the height of the dam. Detail analysis of the EIA study reveals that the study is incomplete, inadequate and shoddy. The study cannot qualify to be called an EIA study.

It is also important to note that EIA and EMP reports prepared by WAPCOS have not fulfilled a very large number of the TOR (Terms of Reference) that the project was to cover in EIA-EMP as per the TOR clearance given for the project on 9.12.2009. Such EIA-EMP will clearly not be acceptable even from statutory and legal point of view and cannot be basis for a public hearing. A report on the status of compliance with TOR in EIA and EMP is available here – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/eia-emp-of-kalai-ii-hydropower-project-doesnt-comply-with-its-terms-of-reference/. Arunachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (APSPCB) and MoEF should immediately cancel the public hearing and ask the EIA-EMP consultants to comply with the TOR first. A letter sent to APSPCB in this regard can be found here – https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/letter-to-apspcb-public-hearing-for-kalai-ii-hep-to-be-held-violating-the-norms/.

Issues Related with EIA consultant WAPCOS

Cumulative Impacts Assessment Study of Lohit Basin Prepared by WAPCOS is Farce The local people from Lohit basin have categorically stated that the cumulative impact assessment study done for the Lohit basin by WAPCOS is farce. In a news published in Arunachal Times (available in Annexure I) people have stated “Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) had earlier conducted a cumulative impact assessment of various hydropower projects in the entire Lohit river basin, as per the directives of MoEF. WAPCOS made a farce report, completing within 2-3 weeks. The study is very poor and shoddy…..” Now for the Kalai II project the same organization is preparing the EIA report. From the track record of WAPCOS and from the experiences of the people in the Lohit basin, it is clear that an EIA prepared by WAPCOS cannot at be accepted as a complete, unbiased study.

People of Lohit Basin will not Accept Studies done by WAPCOS It is important to note that people of Lohit basin have already expressed their anger and disbelief on studies done by WAPCOS. In a letter written to the Union Minister on Environment and Forests on 15 march 2012 the, Peoples Forum For Project Affected Family (PFPAF) had clearly stated the following “….no study of WAPCOS would be acceptable to the people of the Lohit Valley and other social and environment conscious people for two main reasons. Firstly, WAPCOS is an organisation under the Union Water Resources Ministry, and Union Water Resources Ministry is basically a pro dam lobby. WAPCOS also does other pro dam studies like the feasibility reports and Detailed Project Reports for Big dams, such studies are done in favour of Big dams and an organisation that is doing such business cannot be entrusted to do an environment or cumulative impact assessment study. Secondly, WAPCOS also has had very poor track record and has done very poor quality EIA and CIA reports. Hence, in future, we will not accept any reports done by such organisations.”

It is important to note that when the people of the whole Lohit basin had raised objections against WAPCOS, the government and companies should not have hired WAPCOS the project consultant. This indicates a hidden strategy on the part of the project authorities to employ only pro-dam EIA consultants to get favourable outcomes. 

Location of Kalai II HEP. Source: EIA report
Location of Kalai II HEP. Source: EIA report

Critique of the Kalai II EIA study

Biased EIA An EIA report should be an unbiased assessment of impacts of the project. The EIA report of Kalai II HEP is a biased towards hydropower, as can be seen from what has been written in section 1.3, page 1-3: “In Arunachal Pradesh so far a capacity of 423.5 MW has been developed which is just 0.84 % of the total potential. Hydro projects of about 2600 MW are being constructed which is about 5.17 % of the total potential. It is evident from the above that the capacity developed and under development will be achieved for 3023.5 MW in very near future, still leaving behind a potential of about 47304.5 MW (93.99%).” This shows clear towards hydropower project and this EIA report of Kalai II HEP prepared by WAPCOS cannot be considered a neutral assessment of impacts of the project.

EIA does not mention Maximum Water Level of the reservoir The EIA study does not mention the Maximum Water Level of the reservoir when the dam passes peak flood. It only mentions the FRL as 904.80 m.

Large Submergence Area The area which Kalai II project will submerge is very large considering that it is RoR project. The EIA document in Section 6.4 mentioned “The construction of a 198 m high concrete gravity dam shall create a reservoir of area approx. 640 Ha at FRL of El.904.8m. The reservoir will extend up to 15 km along the river Lohit. The reservoir width shall range from about 600 m to 1000 m over most of its length.” But news report published Arunachal Times states that submergence route extends upto 23 km upstream. The report also stated that the project will submerge the entire Hawai circle and all the major villages directly affecting 1500 people.

It is important to note here is that size of the total area required, the number of affected villages and population mentioned in this EIA is much higher than the numbers mentioned for the project when it was considered for TOR clearance in EAC on 21.10.2009. The minutes of that EAC for Kalai II stated that Total land requirement is 830 ha, which has now grown by 32.5% to 1100 ha (Section 2.2 of EIA), No of affected villages has grown from four villages to 25 (525% increase), No of PAFs has grown from 22 to 595 (2605% increase) and no of affected people has grown from 122 to 2279 (1768% increase). This means that the impacts were grossly understated at scoping stage. Is such gross and deliberate understatement acceptable?

Huge land requirement not justified The project claims to require 1100 ha of land, 370 ha more than the land requirement of 830 ha stated at the time of scoping. This land demand seems unjustified and inflated and cannot be accepted at face value. The EIA does not even attempt to look into this issue.

EIA under estimates the number of affected population Even though the EIA has stated 595 as PAFs it still seems a hugely under stated number of affected families. The report claims that their survey team contacted a total of 595 PAFs where the total population of the project affected area is stated as 2279. But the detailed news report of Arunachal Times says that the project will submerge the entire Hawai circle and all the major villages. If this is true then the project will affect much larger no of people.

It is also relevant to note that even as the Kalai II project will affect 595 families (according to the EIA) in order to generate electricity, 565 families or 91.6% project affected families already have electricity supply. (EIA report page 9-13)

Submergence of the existing national highway: Impacts of alternative road not assessed The reservoir of Kalai II HEP will submerge 16 km of existing national highway. The border roads organization will construct two lane road at a higher elevation in place of this. The construction of this alternative road will imply land use, more social impacts, more blasting and other construction related activities, but these impacts have not been included in the EIA.

The alternative highway is planned to be constructed at elevation 910 m. However, since MWL is not given and also backwater effect, which will be higher than MWL at times of peak flood, it is not clear if the alternative elevation would be affected by back water effect.

Many Maps are not readable The project layout map at Figure-2.1 is not legible. The map is very small and except title none of the other details or legends are legible. The EIA must provide a detailed layout map for the Kalai II HEP. The same is case with Geological Plan of Reservoir Area map (Fig 6.1 and 6.2) which are two very important maps but they are not at all legible.

In most places the project consultant have used unclear maps. e.g. ‘Fig 7.7 – Water Sampling location map’ or ‘Fig 8.1 Terrestrial Ecological sampling location map’. An EIA with such illegible maps cannot be acceptable.

Impacts on Migratory Fish Construction of Kalai HEP II will have devastating impacts on fish in the river. The path of the migratory fish will be blocked and this has been accepted by the EIA as well – “The dam construction activities will also create a problem for migratory fish species (Tor tor and Tor putitora).” (Page 8-38). The two species of Mahseer, Tor tor and Tor putitora, locally known as Ngorika and Ngauch respectively and have been listed as ‘endangered’ in IUCN list. But it is surprising to see that EIA opining that “These migratory fish species may move into the small tributaries of LohitRiver.” It is no clear what is the basis of this statement by WAPCOS, it does not seem to show sufficient ecological literacy. The EIA prepared by WAPCOS also seem to ignore that several dams have been proposed in the tributaries as well. The EIA also does not say how well the area has been studied and what kind of biodiversity we may be losing.

Wrong claims about reservoir water quality The EIA says about reservoir water quality, “The proposed project is envisaged as a runoff the river scheme, with significant diurnal variations in reservoir water level. In such a scenario, significant re-aeration from natural atmosphere takes place, which maintains Dissolved Oxygen in the water body. Thus, in the proposed project, no significant reduction in D.O. level in reservoir water is anticipated.” This conclusion is clearly wrong. The EIA says about the reservoir: “The Gross and diurnal Storage of the Kalai-II reservoir are 318.8 M cum and 29.76 M cum with FRL at El 904.80 m and MDDL at El 900.00 m respectively”. This means that 93.35% of the reservoir is dead storage and only 6.65% of the reservoir capacity acts as live storage. Such a large quantity of dead storage will have huge impact on the water quality and the claim to the otherwise by the EIA is clearly wrong and misleading. Similarly the EIA claim of no Eutrophication risk due to “significant diurnal variations in reservoir water level” is clearly wrong.

No Options Assessment The EIA of Kalai II HEP does not do any options assessment. The EIA religiously focuses on the construction of 1200 MW project without mentioning the fact that successful sub-megawatt capacity hydropower projects (Less than 1 MW) are operational in Anjaw district (see Annexure II).

Conversion of community land into forest land can have negative impacts on the communities The EIA on page 10-25 states, “The total land requirement for the project, is 1100 ha. The entire land is considered as forest land. A part of the community land also includes forest land as well. For EMP purposes, the entire quantity of land has been considered as the forest land.” This can lead to severe impacts on the communities.

Here it is important note the implications of actions of similar nature on the Meyor community in the Kithibo area of Anjaw district, in the upstream of Kalai II HEP. A news published by Asian Human Rights Commission (see Annexure III) reports, “The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from civil society groups regarding death threats, arbitrary detention and harassment of members of the Meyor community, a group of indigenous people in Arunachal Pradesh. They are being targeted for their activities on conservation of community land and natural resources.” The leaders of the community reported to have “protested the conversion of the community forest land of Walong and Kibitho area into reserved forest land because it was carried out without the free, prior and informed consent of the Meyor community.” It is important to note that this report also mentioned about impact of dams and other development activities on tribal ethnic communities. However, the EIA is silent on these aspects.

Cumulative impact migrant population in Lohit valley can be catastrophic The Kalai II project EIA states that the maximum number of people coming from outside the region for construction will be 3000 and the impacts are predicted to be only in the construction phase. Here it is important note that the number of outside workers provided by EIAs have proved to be gross under-estimates. But the EIA here does not mention anything about the cumulative impacts of migrant population for other projects along with Kalai II. In fact in a letter written to the Minister of Environment and Forests by the PFPAF, it was mentioned that the whole area of Lohit valley is inhabited by tribal population. The total tribal population as according to 2011 census is 16500. The cumulative number of migrant workers will clearly surpass this population figure, leading to severe impacts on the people of the area.

Lohit river in Anjaw district.  Source: EIA report
Lohit river in Anjaw district.
Source: EIA report

Disaster Management Plans do not mention about seismic risks Discussing the disaster management plan for the dam, the EIA study mentions only few issues and ignores the issue of earthquakes: “However, in the eventuality of dam failures in rare conditions, catastrophic condition of flooding may occur in the downstream area resulting in huge loss to human life and property. Floods resulting from the failure of constructed dams have also produced some of the most devastating disasters of the last two centuries. Major causes of failures identified by Costa are overtopping due to inadequate spillway capacity (34 percent), foundation defects (30 percent), and piping and seepage (28 percent).”

The EIA does not include the following important assessments:

a. Assessment of impacts of quarrying on the river bed and river banks The Kalai II project will require 72.6 lac cumec boulders for construction of the project and all of these will be extracted from the river bed and river banks.

Even though the EIA itself mentions how the removing of boulders and gravel from the river bed will affect spawning areas of fishes (page 10-29), but does not suggest for any detail impacts assessment. It limits itself by stating about adequate precautions during dredging period. But it is highly doubtful that any of those precautions will be followed when actual dredging will be done to extract lakh cumecs of construction material when there are no specific steps or mechanisms suggested. Without full assessment and management plan, the EIA cannot be considered adequate.  

b. Assessment of impacts of blasting for tunneling and other works in the pristine and fragile hill range – Blasting in the fragile hill ranges of Arunachal can have severe impacts, especially in increasing the probability of landslides. In Such circumstances, the EIA stating that no major impacts of blasting are envisaged at the ground level is wrong and puts a big question mark on the EIA.

c. Impact of the project on disaster potential of the area has not been assessed.

d. Impacts of peaking power operation on hydrological regime, biodiversity, and life & livelihoods of people

e. Impact of flushing out of silt from the reservoir

f. Impacts of climate change on the project and project’s impacts on local climate

g. There is no assessment of the value of the river that will be destroyed by submergence in the upstream and drying up and changed hydrology in the downstream.

h. The EIA has not properly assessed the downstream impacts of the project. It may be recalled that the ongoing massive agitation in Assam against such impacts of the under construction 2000 MW Lower Subansiri HEP, that has led to stoppage of work there since Dec 2011 is focused on downstream impacts and this project will face the same fate if this is not attended to.

i. No public consultations in Assam Linked to the above issue is the need for public consultations in downstream Assam about this and all other Lohit basin projects, without which there will be no question of public acceptability of the project and the project may face the same fate as that of Lower Subansiri HEP.

Doubtful, contradictory and sweeping statements in EIA The EIA at several places have stated made such statements:

Page 10 -23, para 4: “The construction of the dam would form the reservoir which will submerge about 640 ha of area in upstream. The area witnessed jhum/shift cultivation practiced by local inhabitants. Submergence of the area would not impact much on the prevailing land use pattern.”

This is clearly wrong, since jhum cultivation is one of the key livelihood supporting activity in these areas and if such land is submerged, it will have major impacts on the land use pattern.

Page 10 – 30, para 3: “As a result, barring for monsoon season, (May to September), the river Lohit will have dry periods for few hours for generation of peaking power.”

The idea of ‘few hours’ a complete misnomer and misleading, it will happen daily for 15-20 hours. In the analysis of Lohit basin study SANDRP had found that for Kalai II, “In lean season river water will be stored for a period of 15-20 hours. As a result, downstream stretch of river from the dam site will remain dry for that period. This will be followed by a continuous flow of 1112.27 cumecs (rated discharge) for a period of 4 to 9 hours.” (Lohit Basin Study by WAPCOS: A mockery of e-flows and cumulative impacts – https://sandrp.in/rivers/Lohit_Basin_Study_by_WAPCOS_A_mockery_of_e-flows_and_cumulative_impacts.pdf)

Parag Jyoti Saikia (meandering1800@gmail.com)

with inputs from Himanshu Thakkar  

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Annexure I

Villagers block road demanding scrapping of Kalai II dam

Link : http://www.arunachaltimes.in/wordpress/2012/06/06/villagers-block-road-demanding-scrapping-of-kalai-ii-dam/

Raju Mimi

HAWAI, Jun 05: About 500 villagers of Hawai circle on Monday staged a dawn-to-dusk road blockade at Walong-Hawai road demanding scrapping of the 1200 MW Kalai II dam proposed on LohitRiver.

The villagers protested under the banner of Peoples Forum for Project Affected Families (PFPAF). Road communication at Hawai was totally disrupted for the whole day affecting even the movement of military vehicles.

Talking over telephone from Hawai, PFPAF Chairperson Behenso Pul said: We had earlier submitted memorandum demanding scrapping of Kalai II dam to Union Ministry of Forest and Environment, chief minister, local representatives putting our grievances. But no one is listening to us. So we decided to launch our democratic movement.

The villagers staging protest demanded for permanent halt of property survey, and other survey and investigation being carried out for the hydro electric project. A memorandum was submitted to deputy commissioner, Hawai placing all grievances and the demands.

We are highly encouraged by the massive participation of villagers in such short notice. It is a great moral boost for people working against dam, said Pul. But there was no participation from panchayat leaders, students union and other civil society organization.

The Kalai II Hydro Electric Project is to be developed by one of the major Reliance Power subsidiary, Kalai Power Private Limited (KPPL). It was incorporated on September 26, 2007. The project site is in LohitRiver in Kumblung and the submergence route extends upto 23 km upstream.

The project involves construction of 161 meter high concrete dam. An underground power house will be constructed to house 8 units of 150 MW turbines. The total project cost is estimated at Rs. 69,551 million and is likely to be completed in 7 years time.

The Kalai II project will lead to submergence of entire Hawai circle and all the major villages. Around 1500 people are being directly affected by the dam, said Pul. Since last week, we carried out grassroots campaign on dams. We haven’t met one single person who is in favour of dam. Everyone one is scared and against it. In Anjaw district alone, at least 6 large dams are proposed within 150 km of river route out of 13 projects in the entire Lohit basin. Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) had earlier conducted a cumulative impact assessment of various hydropower projects in the entire Lohit river basin, as per the directives of MoEF.

WAPCOS made a farce report, completing within 2-3 weeks. The study is very poor and shoddy, said Pul.

According to PFPAF, they are, however, not opposed to all dams in Anjaw district. They view that projects along the tributaries of Lohit river can be harnessed, instead of building large dams along the main river alone. Citing a report in a national news magazine, Pul said the tributaries of Lohit alone had capacity to produce 8000 MW.

Out of the 7 circles in Anjaw district, 5 are situated along the main Lohit river. Even Hawai headquarter is in the bank of Lohit river. So, if dams are built along the main river, majority of the 18000 Mishmi population will be affected, said Pul.

In April 13 meeting with Chief Minister Nabam Tuki at Tezu, the PFPAF had suggested the government to consider harnessing power in the tributaries of Lohit river, not in the main river, where majority of population live. It is learnt that chief minster had made assurance of stopping all dams wherever not required.

If small dams are built in the tributaries, which are in the interior places, people there can benefit in the form of roads and other developments,Pul said.

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Annexure II

Anjaw shines in hydro power sector

Link : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-01-02/guwahati/30580969_1_hydropower-projects-hydel-project-power-supply

TNN Jan 2, 2012, 05.50AM IST

ITANAGAR: The remote Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh is marching ahead to notch a record in the hydropower sector and is being hailed as the future powerhouse of the country with a 58,000 MW hydropower potential.

Kaho, a village in the district located near Kibithoo along the tri-junction of the China-Myanmar-India border, had created a record in 2007 by becoming the first village in the state to have round-the-clock power supply besides supplying power to the Army personnel guarding the frontier.

This feat was achieved thanks to the determination of the lone elected representative of the district, Kalikho Pul, and the equally committed deputy commissioner, Prashant S Lokhande. The two officials were instrumental in commissioning a micro hydel project in the last border village, a 24-hour trek away from last pitch road, for which all the machines and material had to be transported manually.

The duo’s efforts in turning the odds to their advantage made Anjaw the first of the 17 districts in the state to commission many of the ongoing projects.

Pul, who toured the district and inspected all the project sites recently, said the 2X100 KW Yapak, 2X50 KW Khrowtipani, 2X250 KW Matinala and 2X250 KW Teepani projects were commissioned recently and made the border district self-sufficient in power.

At the moment, Hawai, Hayuliang, Goiliang, Manchal, Walong, Kibithoo and Metengliang administrative centres and adjoining villages are getting 24-hour uninterrupted power supply, Pul said, adding that various development activities would begin now with availability of power, thereby boosting the local economy as well.

Located along the Sino-India border, the district is spread across an area of 9,936 sq km and crisscrossed by numerous perennial rivers, including Lohit, Dav, Dalai, Lati, Kulong, Syang, Helei, Yapak and Kathang, has total hydropower potential of above 7,000 MW.

The projects – 2X50 KW Hatipani at Goiliang, 2X30 KW Ashapani, 2X100 KW Kachopani, 2X30 KW Maipani and 2X200 MW Langpani at Gamliang – are likely to be commissioned within a month or two, Pul informed.

He added despite the locational and other disadvantages, the projects could register speedy growth because of proper utilization of funds and strict monitoring.

The hydropower projects were taken up with the vision to benefit the locals as well as the state in general, he said, adding the 16 MW Haleipani project, which is at an advanced stage, is likely to be commissioned within 2012. “It will cater to the needs of Lohit, Dibang and Changlang districts besides meeting the requirements of Anjaw,” he added.

However, according to official sources, no steps have been initiated so far for erecting transmission lines for evacuation of excess power to be generated by the Haleipan project. Once the transmission lines are commissioned the state would be almost self-sufficient and would not need to purchase power at high prices from outside.

Pul added as the Haleipani project is on the verge of completion, the state government, particularly the hydropower department, should take up the transmission line project proposed in Anjaw. The project is pending with the department for the last many years. Without the transmission lines, any quantity of power generated would be futile as it cannot be utilized for any purpose, he said.

Kaho, a village in the district located near Kibithoo along the tri-junction of the China-Myanmar-India border, had created a record in 2007 by becoming the first village in the state to have round-the-clock power supply

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Annexure III

INDIA: Violent Attack, Arbitrary Detention, Death Threats to activists of Meyor Community, Arunachal Pradesh

Link: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-152-2013

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME: Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-152-2013

9 December 2013

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INDIA: Violent Attack, Arbitrary Detention, Death Threats to activists of Meyor Community, Arunachal Pradesh

ISSUES: Arbitrary detention, freedom of speech and expression, indigenous people’s rights, protection of environment, land rights, human rights defenders

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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from civil society groups regarding death threats, arbitrary detention and harassment of members of the Meyor community, a group of indigenous people in Arunachal Pradesh. They are being targeted for their activities on conservation of community land and natural resources. The Meyor community with about 450 members is classified as one of the Scheduled Tribes under the Indian Constitution and is mostly confined to the Anjaw district of the state. They have been criticized for opposing government activities that includes conversion of community land to reserved forest land and corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS).

CASE NARRATIVE Several representatives of the community assumed a leadership role. They are, namely:

Mr. Chung Meyor, 33, Dhanbari village

Mr.Chaping Meyor, 55, Gaon Bura (village chief), Khroati village

Mr. Unchen Meyor, 45, Barakhundun village

Mr. Chethel Meyor, 25, Dhanbari village

Mr. Tharpa Meyor, 26, Musai village

Mr. Tenzing Dorjee Meyor, 30, Sotakhundun village

Mr. Fendey Meyor, 30, Musai village of Arunachal Pradesh

These men protested the conversion of the community forest land of Walong and Kibitho area into reserved forest land because it was carried out without the free, prior and informed consent of the Meyor community.

The conversion of community land into forest land was initiated, allegedly, by Mr. Kalikho Pul, a member of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly. He allegedly collected signatures from the Meyor community under the pretext of development works in the area. Conversion of this forest area was completed in 1995-1996 with a proposal of afforestation. Through an application, under the Right to Information Act, 2005 filed by Mr Dimso Manyu of the Meyor community, the people came to know of this development only on 14 March 2012.

The villages of the Meyor community are within a 36 square kilometer perimeter and their livelihood is dependent on natural resources. Over a period of time they faced limited access to the land resources due to the conversion of community land into ‘forest land’. Once they came to know of the conversion, the community vehemently opposed it. Due to their opposition, it is alleged that the police and unknown trouble-makers carried out frequent detentions, arrests, tortures and intimidations of community leaders and representatives of the Meyor tribe.

On 26 April 2013, armed reprobates arrived in a white Scorpio Jeep, threatened and attempted to torture Mr. Chung Meyor near Naraliang village on Tezu-Hayuliang Road. On the same day, Mr. Chung lodged a complaint about the incident at the Khupa police station. Police have not taken any action so far.

On 1 June 2013, Mr. Unchen Meyor filed a complaint at the Khupa Police Station. He cited mismanagement, corruption and illegal activities committed at a Fair Price Shop set up under the government’s Public Distribution System. Incidentally, on 12 November 2013 some local youths discovered that Mr. Agam Rai was selling PDS items illegally to people who were not subscribed under the PDS system. In connection to this discovery, a counter- police complaint was lodged by Mr.Kayawlum Tawsik, Chairperson, Zilla Parishad (local government), Anjaw Disttrict, against Mr. Unchen Meyor, Mr. Chethel Meyor and Mr. Tharpa Meyor.

On the night of 13 November 2013, Mr. Unchen and his family were brutally assaulted by a group of criminals at his residence in Barakhundun village. Mr. Unchen is still in critical condition due to injuries to his head, nose and chest. His daughter made a complaint about the attack on 15 November to the Khupa police station. However, till now, the police have not taken any action.

A second time, on 28 November 2013, Mr. Fendey Meyor, member of Gram Panchayat (local government) was arrested by the police from his village, Musai. They demanded the immediate surrender of Mr. Unchen, Mr. Chethen, Mr.Tenjing at the Khupa police. Mr. Fendey was released on 3 December on bail, with fabricated charges of vandalising still pending. Mr. Unchen is in hospital (at Aditya Diagnostic, Diburgar) struggling for his life. Mr. Chethen and Mr. Tenjing are in hiding, fearing for their lives and personal security. Similarly other community activists like Mr. Chung Meyor, Mr. Chaping Meyor and Mr. Tharpa Meyor are equally exposed to threats to their lives.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Arunachal Pradesh, bordering on China, is one of the most thinly populated states in India. It has 101 recognized indigenous tribal groups and about 50 languages. There are several rivers with the potential for generating hydro-electric power. The government has planned to construct some 168 mega-dams in the state, a move opposed by the indigenous people living there. There is a heavily militarized presence due to the international border. Draconian measures under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is applicable in two districts of Arunachal Pradesh, namely Tirap and Changlang, and a 20 kilometer area bordering Assam.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

1.            Urge the Government Authorities of India and the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh to guarantee the physical and psychological security of the members of the Meyor Community and its leaders.

2.            Urge the authorities to protect the indigenous people’s right to land and resources.

3.            Urge the authorities to protect the environment and not to grant deforestation rights.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People and the UN Special Rapporteur on Protection of Human Rights Defenders for immediate intervention in this matter.

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